GRAFTON, Ill. – The city of Grafton is trying to stave off rising floodwaters from the Mississippi River.
The river is expected to reach its second highest level ever; only eclipsed by the great Flood of ‘93. The projected crest is still several days away.
A levee wall was just finished in Grafton on Friday. It’s a wall that has never been built before in Grafton. Officials hope the wall can hold back the water and save part of the main business district.
“The emotional strain is pretty intense,” said Grafton Mayor Rick Eberlin.
The mayor is in the fight of his life trying to hold back the Mississippi River floodwaters from swallowing up his town.
Many buildings in Grafton are already flooded but the mayor hopes to keep some areas dry with the newly finished levee wall.
Pumps are working around the clock trying to get water out that is winding up on what is supposed to be the dry side of the levee.
“We’re putting in, you know, 16-18 hour days, and then you worry when you go home at night, you know, are the pumps gonna stay running and that’s half the battle,” Eberlin said.
Patty O’Hair owns two businesses behind the levee – O’Hair’s Salon and the Grafton Inn. Some water is getting into the first floor where her salon is located and she thinks more will come. But she is trying to stay positive.
“We’re just kind of taking it one day at a time and one moment at a time, like we’re supposed to in life,” she said.
Meanwhile, members of the Grafton United Methodist Church are trying to save the 185-year-old building. They are pumping out water out of the basement.
“There’s no sense in it going under on our generation. If our forefathers kept it afloat we’re going to, too,” said church member Gary Conrad.
The Raging Rivers Water Park in Grafton has again delayed its opening because of the flood. No new opening date has been set.
People in Grafton are hoping for the best.
“You just got to take it in stride. You know, I could break down and cry about it but that’s not going to do me any good. I’m still going to have to dry the tears and dry the floors,” O’Hair said.
Some businesses including restaurants and bars are still open in the dry parts of town, so Grafton is still open.
The Mississippi is projected to crest there next Thursday at 36 feet, about two feet below the Flood of ’93.